CatalystCon West

September 2017 – Los Angeles, CA



Click here to register!

12 Steps to Sexy Aging – Starting Now!
Joan Price

Do you plan to get old? I hope you do, because the alternative to getting old is dying young, and who wants that? You’ve seen elders who radiate sexy zest, send sly signals, frequent sex shops and leave with a bounce in their step and a bag full of goodies. You’ve also met or heard stories about seniors who proclaim they’re done with sex, no longer interested, or who unintentionally let sex fall by the wayside until it’s too late to get it back.

What can you do now to make sure you keep sex alive as you age? What are the secrets to staying sexually vibrant through the decades ahead? In this presentation, you’ll learn what you can do starting now, whether you’re 25 or 55 or any age at all, to invest in your future sexuality. You’ll learn practical tips, communication skills, and attitude adjustments to enrich your sex life lifelong – partnered or solo – despite what the aging process throws your way.

A Smile is NO invitation to Fuck! Keep Your Hands to Yourself; Living In a Rape Culture
Kandee Lewis

I was walking to my car, happy to be alive. There is a song in my head and heart, and all is cool in the world. Then I hear it, Damn Baby, you have a beautiful smile. Can I get your number. I continue to walk, smiling in my joy and tell ole boy, naw, I’m cool, I’m married. This fool says, “that’s okay, what he don’t know won’t hurt him. Smile has officially disappeared. “Thank You, but no thanks.” Then he reaches out to grab me saying, “I saw you smile at me, I know you want some of this dick”. I’m done! I think quickly, scan the streets to see if I have backup, and stop in my tracks and tell this Motherfucker to take is shit stain, little motherfucking hands off me before I kick his ass!

To be continued!

Australia’s accessibility to information

Euphemia will share an Australian perspective about living in the Information Age with hyper-accessibility to information, media, and online communities centred around sex, gender, and sexuality.

On one hand, Australian communities have used the internet to find gender and sexual identity communities. They have contributed to shaping and furthering identities, particularly through platforms like Reddit and Tumblr. This online visibility and understanding has feed back into the local communities, and increased the visibility of these identities culturally, even if they are not fully institutionally recognised.
But in contrast to this, Australians are still fumbling to access and engage with accurate, helpful information and media about the basics of sex and pleasure for all bodies and identities. Euphemia speaks to the many reasons about why this might be apparent, touching on the prudishness and medicalisation of Australian institutions, policy, and issues around accessibility.

They will then open up to a group discussion on if it is actually possible to systematically increase accessibility to information about sex for adults because adults are no longer participating in mandatory learning institutions.

Beautism and Status: How Stereotypes Influence Leadership, and Limit Choices… Recognizing Patterns and Reclaiming Power
Cathy Vartuli, Erin Tillman, jessica drake, and Robin Wilson-Beattie

How people perceive influence and power, how we’re able to get people’s attention in ethical ways, can be strongly impacted by social definitions of beauty. Studies show how closely we resemble cultural ideals of attractiveness can subconsciously sway the primitive parts of people’s brains and strongly determine how much authority and value our words and actions are given.

And that constant, subtle pressure can cause us to conform to others expectations… Sometimes moving us off the path we believe in or reducing our confidence or conviction.

There are privilege, stereotypes, and social pressure on all sides of the fence. We’ll discuss issues around beauty, race, size, ability and gender.

Beautism isn’t going to go away, but the higher the consciousness around it, the more people are aware, the easier it is to counter. We’ll lead specific exercises to bring awareness, identify the patterns, and give perspectives that allow more choice and freedom, as well as empowering attendees to see people for how they are, beyond the curtain of “pretty” or “ugly.”

Behind The Curtain: Running Multiple Day Events And Coming Out Sane
Cathy Vartuli, Dee Dennis, and Lola

Running a multiple day event for large groups can be challenging, especially when you encourage self-expression and independent thought. How can you leave your attendees, sponsors and speakers feeling appreciated and inspired?

Get a behind-the-curtain look at the intricacies and approaches that have worked… And learn about the ones that didn’t.

Ask the questions you’ve always wanted to, and discover the thought process behind some of the things you wondered about. Learn best practices and things to avoid when gathering support staff, and how to help them feel empowered and excited about the sometimes routine, sometimes frantic work involved in pulling an event off.

Learn what protocols, guidelines and suggestions bring calm and clarity and which ones create noise and conflict, and what you can do to upgrade and enhance peoples’ experiences while you create a safe container.

We’ll also discuss self-care before, during and after the event, and how to combat con-drop when the crowd goes home and you’re left trying to tie up loose ends.

“Be Mine”: Dimensions of Coercion and Control in Mononormative Culture
Angie Gunn, LCSW, Dr. Liz Powell

While recent years have brought a welcome focus on consent in sex and relationships, we are all unfortunately steeped in a culture that encourages all sorts of insidious forms of coercion and control. Whether it’s rape culture themes that tell people to pester and stalk someone into dating them, popular ideas about what constitutes cheating, or pushing a partner for sex in long-term relationships, mononormative culture often removes consent and disempowers those raised in it.

When definitions of “cheating” can include fantasies, emotional support, and even finding a celebrity attractive, who among us is not cheating? Who actually owns our sexuality if our private thoughts are infidelities? When a partner can use guilt or pressured expectations about sexual duties to get the sex they want, where does that person and their sexuality stand outside of the relationship?

Unfortunately, these cultural messages about coercion and control can be difficult to shake and even therapists and sex educators can find themselves perpetuating messages of disempowerment.

In this class, we’ll discuss how to differentiate between boundaries, agreements and rules and how different levels of empowerment vs. control tend to be present in each. We’ll also help unpack blind spots about control and coercion and identify ways to create greater consent and empowerment in relationships.

Bisexuality: A Non-Binary Introduction
Carol Queen, Ph.D, Dr. Robert Morgan Lawrence

Before many of the people who were sexually attracted to or involved with partners of more than one gender were “queer,” they were often called “bi”—and the letter B in the LGBTIQ acronym represents more history, as well as current activism, than many people realize. Bisexuals Carol and Robert will catch you up on bi organizing, research, and life past and present, from bisexual chic to the Bisexual Center, and from the Klein Scale to Bi+ identity.

Boldly Unbroken: Decolonizing our Approaches to Trauma and Healing
Shadeen Francis, MFT, MSc

The study and attention to trauma has been a fairly recent addition to the clinical field. With the increased publicity of social violences such as police brutality, xenophobic political rhetoric, transphobic epidemics,etc., this work is especially necessary in healing the traumas of Black communities. Despite being a well-intentioned practice, modern narratives of trauma-informed care arose out of early colonial perspectives centering whiteness, catholicism and eurocentric models of health and wellness. Not only is this approach to healing too narrow to address the nuanced complexity of people of colours’ experiences, but it is also slanted in such a way to actually perpetuate social injustices against the communities we are aiming to serve. In this presentation, alternatives to the trauma-informed model will be discussed to reveal opportunities for enacting liberation and authentic healing for people of colour who have survived traumatic experiences.

Creating a Sexual Space for “America’s Most Vulnerable”
Nathan Say, Robin Wilson-Beattie

People with disabilities are the largest minority group that frequently gets passed over when being taught sexual education in public and private settings. A frequent phrase that is used by educators and the medical profession, is that a person’s disability makes them “too vulnerable” to receive quality sexual education. Yet, we know that sexuality and access to sex is a human right, and so access to high-quality comprehensive sexual education seems like the most logical choice.

In this presentation, we will discuss a brief history of the disability civil rights movement, we will discuss ableism and how ableism creates a bias that makes it difficult for people to see disabled bodies as sexy and sexual, we will discuss previous attempts to provide sexual education in the disability community, we will review what other countries and cultures are doing to address the sexual needs of people with developmental disabilities, and we will engage in interactive discussion that will allow us to think outside box as we work towards liberating the disability community by providing access to sexual space.

Do You See Me?”: Comparing Military and Sex Work Inclusivity in Sex Positive Spaces
Harmony Larson, Jack HammerXL, Kelsey Obsession, Ph.D., Dr. Liz Powell, and Michael Andrew Sinclair II

What do military service and sex work have in common? When it comes to seeking inclusion, community, and non-judgement in sex positive spaces, these two groups have more in common than meets the eye. Both veterans and sex workers have unique sexual health needs, which are not always understood by culturally competent professionals or peers. Further, both groups may experience stigma and judgement for their choice of work in sex positive spaces. Ultimately, there is a common struggle to be seen as real people, and not just our jobs. “Coming out” as a military member or sex worker can invite a host of moral and ethical judgement, as well as unwanted attention, which can deter individuals from participating openly. What happens when opposition to a system leads to exclusion of those within it? Can we actively include and value individuals from those spheres, while holding space to critique the military industrial complex or the ethics of sex work? Join our panel of veterans and sex workers as they compare experiences searching for acceptance in sex positive spaces.

Embracing your Sexual Being in a Spiritually Oppressive Climate
Renair Amin

The purpose of this workshop is to aid in the reconditioning of one’s mind surrounding human sex/sexuality/sensuality. Traditionally, religion has served to oppress any thought which viewed sex and sexuality is a positive thing, particularly when it comes to women. To reclaim our spiritual beings, we often have to deprogram ourselves from religious rhetoric that teaches us that sex-shaming and body-denial are the only ways to achieve real freedom. During this session, participants will engage in conversations around homophobia, sex, and sexuality, through a progressive spiritual perspective. The objective of this workshop is to provide a new train of thought as it relates to human sex and sexuality by giving some foundational tools to help combat the spiritually oppressive climate in which one may reside, even if it is just simply within themselves.

Femme as Fuck: The Devaluation of Femininity Within The Feminist Movement
Antoinette Patterson, Lola, and Rebecca Hiles

Have you ever met a “cool feminist”? The one who thinks performative femme gestures, being a stay at home mom or housewife, or being the submissive in the relationship is feeding into the patriarchy? The devaluation of femininity in feminism often leaves femmes of all kinds feeling alienated and guilty for their likes or wants. This session explores the femme, and how not creating a space for femmes is an inherently un-feminist act.

From Cuckold to Raceplay: The Implications of Fetishizing Race
Alexis Wilson

In the last decade digital media has become unavoidable; its omnipresence simultaneously shaping our identities, experiences and society. This intersects with human sexuality in the form of internet pornography. Browse any pornographic website and tag names such as ‘Ebony’, ‘Latina’, ‘BBC’, and ‘Asian’ are easily found, however there are no similar references to white identity. ​ As this process takes place a particular question about sexuality arises: How has pornography impacted our conception of race and identity and what is the extent of this impact?

Wilson’s interactive presentation will answer this central question along with how we navigate spaces which harmfully juxtapose race and sexuality where pornography may reinforce racist societal attitudes. Through this deliberate hyper-sexualization and fetishization non-white identity is commodified and portrayed as objective depiction rather than subjective experience. This skewed representation erases the complexity of people of color and contributes significantly to ‘othering’ of marginalized identity. Wilson focuses on racial fetishization of people of color within pornography exploring how the line between fetish and fetishism demarcates attractive risk from real danger; analyzing what racial fetishism is, how it manifests in pornographic media, it’s origin and history and lastly the larger impact on people of color and society collectively. This presentation will discuss the role of race and how race informs identity, as it relates to digital pornographic material and how the othering of non-white identity poses danger for people of color-to ultimately answer what it means to fetishize race.

The Funny Side of Sex(ual Identity)
Diana Hong,Ken Cosby, Rosie Tran, and Vanessa Gritton

They say laughter is the best medicine. The same can be said about sex. However, in the landscape of comedy in all forms of media, sex is often the butt of the joke. When it comes to the topic of sexual identity, way too often that representation is under attack for the purpose of humor and if you’re a person of color, it can feel, at times, like an assault.

As a sex positive comedic performer, how can you coexist in a business that appears to define you as the ‘other’ and unwanted for the purpose of comic effect?

The landscape has changed, audiences member are constantly violating the sanctity of the stage, and now more performers are finding themselves in a position where they have to fight back.

In this panel moderated by stand up comic and college professor Ken Cosby, Rosie Tran, Diana Hong, and Vanessa Gritton will discuss of the joys and pitfalls of being a sex positive comic in today’s world as well as how to use the power of comedy to heal, defend, and enjoy who you are as an individual in your every day life.

Happens to the Best of Us: An Introspective of Expert Culture
Andy Duran, Carol Queen, Ph.D., and Meg Munoz

As sex educators, therapists, and experts in our fields, it’s easy to see how the people we work with can assume we “have it all figured out.” That the polyamorous presenter doesn’t experience jealousy, the couples counselor isn’t going through a divorce, and your sex toy rep isn’t inorgasmic. But what happens when we start to believe that we have to be as perfect as the brand we represent? In this honest dialogue we will explore how to combat the internal and external expectations of “perfection”, discuss imposter syndrome, and give space for our own struggles with sexuality and communication.

Imaginable (sexual) bodies: Trans sexualities and erotic embodiments
Lucie Fielding, PhD

The sexual lives of trans and gender nonconforming (TGNC) individuals are rarely discussed in the clinical literature, and least of all with any attention to the complexities of their own erotic engagement. And when discussed, an emphasis is often placed on the preservation of sexual function
(as after gender confirmation surgeries); sexual health education (often narrowly defined as protection from STI transmission); and a discourse of loss. Loss is conceptualized as reduced access to sex positive spaces due to discrimination and exclusion, changes in couple sexuality, functional consequences of gender confirmation surgeries, and changes in libido due to hormone replacement therapy. The image of trans sexualities that emerges from these discursive threads prioritizes function over pleasure and leaves our clients without models to delight in. This highly-interactive workshop will allow participants to move beyond these discourses and toward practices that view changes in sexual expression in terms
of difference rather than loss—an opportunity to honor changes, but also one to delight, play, and explore. We will lay a groundwork for changing our practice when working with TGNC individuals that will allow us to become more empathic and creative practitioners.

The Intersection of Race and Polyamory
Kevin Patterson

While polyamory and polyamorists are often viewed as a very welcome bunch, far too often, our communities and representation appear very limited. While we can be loud and proud when it comes to feminism and LGBT issues, sometimes we are suspiciously silent in regards to race. Beyond that, we sometimes, and often unknowingly, foster a standoffish, stressful or downright unwelcoming atmosphere around people of color. This presentation is a discussion about why diversity is important to our movement. We will tackle ways that we can proactively promote an inclusive environment in our lives, in our communities, and at our events. Most importantly, we will go over what we can do to maintain that diversity.

Licking Honey off the Thorn: How to shift sexual trauma through pleasure and resilience
Jamila M. Dawson, MA, LMFT

Sexual pleasure and sexual trauma are opposite somatic experiences but both affect how we think, feel, and show up in our sexual lives and relationships. For people who have experienced sexual trauma there can be considerable confusion, shame, and distress as they navigate their sexual lives. Traditional sex therapy tends to address sexual trauma from function/dysfunction model. But what if we looked at the mindful cultivation of pleasure as a potential antidote to sexual trauma. During this presentation, we will discuss how new findings in neuroscience and the concepts of pleasure, resilience, and play can offer an alternative that takes us towards sexual wellness.

Navigating the Rabbit Hole: Developing your Porn Literacy skills
Caroline West

Porn studies is a fast developing area of research that plays catch up with a fast changing industry, alongside a media focused more on sensationalized headlines rather than providing an in-depth analysis of actual results. Studies can be used to support anti-porn ideology or attempts to change the industry, affecting its workers, and are therefore worthy of in-depth scrutiny. Methodological concerns abound over many studies and their use in generalizing results to the wider public; ranging from issues around bias, context, material chosen, and participant demographics. A close examination of the language and definitions used in porn research is also important in examining the bias of a study which may have real world consequences, and raises questions over who is permitted to speak.

Utilising existing studies we will examine some of these methodological concerns and discuss their impact on the study’s validity and generalisability. We will also examine the ways in which porn research can develop in order to explore porn issues from a more nuanced perspective. Developing critical porn literacy skills means that researcher can contribute to a field where ethical, methodologically sound research is crucial to avoiding harm caused by poor research.

This workshop aims to increase the participant’s literacy skills in examining porn research-and the reporting of results- by enhancing their critical thinking skills. These skills can then be applied to analysing research and ideology, and separating emotional knowledge and bias from factual findings in a debate that often resembles a battle zone for control over porn knowledge.

Parallel: Comparing Societal Stigma Between Disability and Sexual Non-monogamy
Leandra Vane

Drawing on lived experiences as a visibly disabled woman in an open relationship, Leandra Vane tackles the myriad of stereotypes and stigmas attached to bodies and relationships that fall outside the norm. Some of the ideas covered in this talk include how the social model of disability applies to sexual non-monogamy, how passing plays a role in both disability and open relationships, and how attitudes about maturity and responsibility tint judgements about the disabled body and alternative relationships alike. The goal of the discussion is to reveal how we can use the experiences in disability or non-monogamy to help us combat or cope with the stigmas levied at both, and bring an embodied perspective to the world of polyamory and other non-monogamous relationships.

Queer & Trans Sexual Health
Andy Duran, Jackie (Jack) Rednour-Bruckman, and Katherine (Kat) Rossiter

You want to touch me where? Body and sex positivity can be tricky landscapes to navigate and especially intense for queer and trans identified folks.

So much emphasis can be put on gender identity and presentation, but what happens when the lights go down or doctor appointments come up? Join sex educators Andy Duran, Jack Rednour-Bruckman, and Kat Rossiter as they present a fun and informative workshop for queer and trans identified folk and the people who love and care for them. This workshop and discussion will focus on sexual health for queer & trans communities, and promote a more embodied, empowered, and authentic sexual experience for anyone struggling.

Health care and sexual wellness are critical, yet so many queer and trans people don’t feel safe enough to access them. Dealing with pap smears, breast exams, prostate health, or a new lover can create fear and isolation. This workshop will help create a welcoming body positive space that is beyond the cis binary. Join us!

RT This: How Cyberbullying on Twitter is Impacting Women of Color in Porn
Cupcake SinClair, LaTerra McDaniels, and Verta.

In a perfect world, the idea of social media is great. Access to just about anyone on the globe sounds like the kind of thing to bring us all together, creating a safe space for everyone to express themselves without judgement or shame. However our world isn’t perfect and the glory of what social media “could be” is far from reality. One of the side effects of the access social media brings is cyberbullying. Harassment by cyberbullies can happen to anyone from kids to adults, celebrities to LGBTQ folks and of course performers in the adult industry. Most of us can unplug if an argument online gets heated but for adult film actors, being on social media is an integral part of their job. Performers use it to establish their brand, find the next gig and promote their latest projects. This presentation will expose the level of cyberbullying women of color in porn are experiencing online. We will answer questions like how often is this happening? What comments about gender and race are being directed towards these women? How is this impacting their lives and what can we do to help them navigate the storm of negativity? With information gathered from Twitter and interviews conducted with women of color in the adult film industry we will highlight what happens when porn, social media and race collide.

Sex in Russia
Elena Rydkina

Elena Rydkina is going to give an overview of the current state of sexual education, health and business in Russia, covering topics such as the HIV epidemic, homophobic laws and their consequences, domestic violence, challenges of Sex Ed, religious propaganda and people’s attitudes towards sex and sexuality.

Sex Positive Parenting
Jackie Rednour-Bruckman, Shar Rednour

Author Shar Rednour, The Sex & Pleasure Book, The Femme’s Guide to the Universe and Jack Rednour-Bruckman, Executive Vice President of Good Vibrations–the premier sex positive retailer, host a workshop on how to talk to your kids about sex and how to be parent in a sex positive and body positive way free of shame and stigma yet full of healthy boundaries and good communication. Real life partners and parents to three kids, their combined experience on this topic professionally and personally is full of good advice and practical how to’s for parents, educators, professionals, activists, and advocates alike. Sex education is sorely lacking especially for anyone under 18 years old yet popular culture, gaming, social media, and mainstream media is full of messages and images that inundate kids on a daily basis. How do you help them navigate and how do you empower them to make good choices and judgements especially around body positivity and consent? This workshop will help you answer these questions and give you ideas to take back to your professional and personal life whether you have kids or not.

Sex Talk: Investigating the Sexual Development and Sexual Attitudes of African American Women
Chanel Jaali

This highly engaging session will begin with a brief historical overview of the sexuality of African and African descendant women. The presentation will then move into the myths, misconceptions, and stereotypes surrounding the sexuality of Black women. Attention will be given to the ways we learn about sex, and with that information, how we interpret sex and sexuality through our behaviors. This session is intended to be highly interactive with key discussion questions and videos positioned throughout with the intent of examining the aforementioned subjects. The speaker will also include personal stories collected from interviews in order to engage a cross cultural perspective with the audience.

Sexual Liberation, Activism & Expression through Art
Mo Beasley,  Zyra Lee Vanity


This session will center around the ways in which both visual and performance art are used to express sexuality as well sexual agency. Not only is art used as a tool for expression, but also for advocacy, political commentary and for reaching the masses. From burlesque to spoken word, dance to erotic poetry, rap music to painting, sexuality is a vivid part of the arts and the arts are an important tool for activism.

In this session artivists (artist activists/ Artivism) will discuss the ways in which the arts can be used to not only liberate oneself but also others. These artists will navigate the ways that current topics in the sexual liberation movements have become a part of their art. How has art been used as a personal tool of liberation? How have you used the arts to reach others? In what ways are the arts undervalued/devalued in the overall sexual rights movement? How do the arts provide more accessibility for those interested in issues of sexual rights? In what ways have the arts impacted change amongst sexual rights? How have the arts allowed for more acceptance of LGBTQ, sex working, kinky and other sexual minority communities? From local independent art, to top 40 popular culture art, art is is being used as a tool for liberation,education, acceptance & advocacy. Is it important that we value the work of artists, and see artists and the ways that they express themselves through the arts as a necessity for change.

Sexuality, Kink, and Social Justice
Erin Kennedy

The ability to freely express individual sexuality without fear of shame or retribution is a human right. Kinksters too often face discrimination from their families, friends, in the courtroom, and workplace from people who believe that some sexual behaviors are “deviant” while others are “normal.” Dismantling this binary between vanilla and kinky sexual behaviors helps to create a shame-free atmosphere of sexual freedom for everyone, no matter where they visualize themselves on the spectrum of kink. Understanding sex to include a wide variety of behaviors helps to dismantle hetero-normative, ableist, classist perspectives of sex which alienate many people.

This workshop addresses the intersection of social justice and sexuality – specifically, how racism, classism, ableism, ageism, and sexism manifest into sexual shame and discrimination for people who identify within BDSM communities. Participants will understand how to intentionally create intersectionality in their own BDSM communities. This workshop is appropriate for all levels of experience and interest, including kink-curious, kink allies, and kink veterans.

Sex Worker, Birth Worker, Death Worker
Maggie Mayhem

Sex, Birth, and Death are all very human experiences shrouded in mystery and taboo. They are also all workplaces. Maggie Mayhem shares what she knows about how to make a living loving humans based on her experiences educating people and getting her hands dirty working with sexuality, reproduction, and death. This session is ideal for anyone who wants to learn about the kinds of occupations one might find under these strange banners and may especially benefit sex positive professionals curious about expanding their own portfolio of services by drawing on the strengths they have already developed.

Sexy Does Not Have An Expiration Date
Dr. Nancy Sutton Pierce

Fear of aging or loss of sexual desirability haunts us all at some point. This fear can leave us feeling vulnerable and pressured to rush into mismatched sexual partnerships or subject ourselves to potentially life threatening, youth-preserving treatments or surgeries. How To Fight Back A Youth Valued Culture· Fear, Vulnerability and Empowerment· Attitude Can Change The World· Sexy is not a number· 10 things That Can Kill Our Sexy· Getting Your Sexy Back (if you’ve misplaced it)· Cougars and Manthers – Predatory or Preferable?· Sexy beyond Menopause/Andropause· What Your Doctor Should Know and Often Doesn’t, 10 Keys to Keeping it Sexy in a long-term relationship. Sexuality shares the same trajectory as our life phases, offering equal potential for expansion or contraction in our physical bodies, intimate relationships, and perception of our experiences. Since these life-phases are foreseeable, with adequate preparation, they can serve to expand our life experiences and sense of fulfillment. Receiving pragmatic information, healthy communication skills, and sexy hints will make this way of being more commonplace. Opening these conversations will serve to enhance rather than tear down our intimate relationships due to ignorance, guilt or shame. Knowledge is power and when fully armed it’s more likely we’ll keep our sexual energy alive and kicking through all the phases. My eclectic professional experience allows me to create a bridge to understand the root of our fears and be empowered instead of victimized by them. Sexual Energy IS Life Energy.

Sexy Parents Raising Sexually Healthy Kids
Kenna Cook, Kevin Patterson, Kimberlee Cline, Mona Darling, and Remi Newman, MA

Panelists will explore the complexities of raising children to be sexually healthy by sharing sex positive values that help our children navigate an often sex negative culture. We will address issues specific to parents whose careers and lives center around sex and sexuality.

Shame, Perfectionism and Redemption: How Our Community Can Clean Things Up, Restore Justice, and Heal
Cathy Vartuli, Dr. Liz Powell, and Lola.

In sex-positive communities, we have a strong focus on inclusivity and compassion. While we have a deep caring for justice and supporting victims, very valuable focuses, there is also a tendency to use perfectionism and shame based enforcement that can create a cycle of disempowerment and blaming. This can create spaces where instead of compassion for humans who are fallible, or instead of understanding the nuances of the situation, all too often we see a dichotomy of victims or villains that have to win or lose.

When we have a good/evil mentality, it can be hard to see the difference between “a person who messed up” and “a messed up person.”

In this binary culture, those accidentally falling outside the rules and those making mistakes are often judged as harshly as intentional perpetrators of boundary violations. This can leave members of the community isolated and with little space or support to come clean about their own mistakes and clean up the relationships affected. It can also leave no room for clients and community to grow and learn from mistakes. Silence builds more shame.

While there certainly are people with whom our clients and our community need to set firm boundaries, not all offenses or messes are equally mal-intentioned. When the options of response are limited to banning or doing nothing, clients and communities can feel trapped and paralyzed. With fear of social judgment affecting many, the nuanced discussions most needed are often stifled or shut down.

In this panel, we will discuss the delicate balance between support in community and necessary accountability and offer suggestions on how to approach difficult situations as they arise.

SNAPSHOT: reframing the sexual narrative with Shine Louise Houston
Shine Louise Houston


‘Coming out’ stories are huge in queer communities. They play an important role in making sense of what we’ve been through and help pave the way for others. Growing up queer, filmmaker Shine Louise Houston was frustrated with the stories she saw: there were so few queers of color, the representations of what was ‘sexy’ didn’t include her, narratives were formulaic and stereotypical, and the production quality left a lot to be desired. SNAPSHOT is her attempt to provide a different narrative, an erotic suspense thriller that draws inspiration from some of her most profound filmic influences such as Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Antonioni’s Blow Up.

The story is set in San Francisco, where our young lead, Charlie, discovers that she may have accidentally photographed a murderer. Her pursuit of the mysterious figure in her photo causes her to meet Danny, an older Butch, setting into motion an odd romance. The traditional narrative usually involves a younger protagonist coming into maturity or sexual revelation, however it is our older character, Danny, who embraces a new way of being as a result of meeting Charlie and being exposed to her unfamiliar desires. The murder mystery is a MacGuffin, serving as a catalyst for their relationship, symbolic of their triumphs over fears of intimacy.

Enjoy a special screening presented by Shine Louise Houston. (Look out for cameos by familiar CatalystCon faces!)

Some Assembly Required
Q Wilson


Fucking with a cock can be hard. It can be even harder when you’re trying to do it with a cock that’s not factory installed. Wouldn’t it be great to have some help figuring out how?! Which cock should I choose? What are my style and material choices when it comes to harnesses? Which positions might work best? Come bring your questions so we can get you thoroughly put together!

Trans Women and Male Privilege
Cadence ValentinePersephone Karnstein, Rebecca Blanton, and Sage Fox

Several academics, including most recently Chimanada Ngozi Adichie, have suggested that trans women experience and benefit from male privilege. Most often, this assertion is based in the idea that trans women are seen as “male” and the larger society ascribes a masculine gender to them for some period of time and therefore trans women inescapably experience and benefit from male privilege.

Many trans women have responded to this assertion stating they are female, were always female and simply assigned the incorrect gender at birth and do not experience male privilege at any point in their lives. Further, in several written responses to assertion of male privilege, various trans women have stated that they not only lack male privilege, but their trans identity does not convey the benefits of being seen as a “real female” in the world and they are doubly discriminated against.

With Rebecca Blanton moderating, the panelists will discuss their own experience as trans women, if they ever saw themselves as male, the difference between ascribed identities and personal identities, and how privilege has affected their lives and their views of the world.

Trauma-informed Sex Positivity
Kathy G. Slaughter, LCSW

Anywhere between one-quarter and one-third of adults experienced more than one traumatic event as a child, which means roughly a third of all adults (at least!) are trauma survivors of some kind. Within sex-positive communities (kink, polyamory, etc.), much of the information provided to educate and support individuals fails to account for the impact of trauma on present day challenges in relationships and sexual expression. This oversight can contribute to well-meaning advice falling flat, failing to resonate, or worst of all, reinforcing negative self-concepts.

Because past traumatic experiences limit our sense of self, destroy our belief in our ability to influence the world around us, and damage our ability to trust ourselves and others, past trauma profoundly alters how we navigate relationships and sexual expression. The very tactics that assisted in our survival leave us vulnerable to being abused again, usually by intimate partners or others we know personally. Disseminating information about the effects of trauma and how to deal with them is an essential component of empowering all of us to enjoy satisfying relationships and embrace our sexual agency. This workshop will explore the psychological scars left by trauma and contemplate different ways to modify content accordingly.

Using Video and YouTube to Reach New Audiences, Inspire Your Followers and Touch Lives (Even If You Never Want To Be On Camera)!
Cathy Vartuli, Reid Mihalko

You have a message your want to share. You have an approach and an understanding that inspires and makes people’s lives so much better. How do you get it out in the world in a way that touches lives, adds value, and builds connection and recognition for you?

Videos, and especially YouTube videos, are powerful ways to reach new audiences, keep your existing fan base engaged and on track, and build excitement and interest for new programs and services.

There are key steps and tips that can make this process easy and fun, and not sucking up every ounce of spare time you have! Learn how to quickly draw people into your videos, and keep them engaged. Discover how to spend 5 minutes to as much as triple traffic from your YouTube videos to your website and product pages.

And explore how your authentic style on videos (even if it’s never to appear on video at all) can work for you and your unique audience so you can make a difference in their world while you grow your business and get more people clamoring for what you teach.

Vibrator Nation: How Feminist Sex-Toy Stores Changed the Business of Pleasure
Andy Duran, Carol Queen, Ph.D., and Lynn Comella,Ph.D.

In the 1970s a group of pioneering feminist entrepreneurs launched a movement that ultimately changed the way sex was talked about, had, and enjoyed. Boldly reimagining who sex-toy stores were for and what kinds of spaces they could be, they opened vibrator shops like Eve’s Garden and Good Vibrations, helping to create a foundation upon which future generations of sex-positive retailers would build. This panel discusses the history of feminist sex-toy stores in the United States, describing how these businesses have used consumer culture as a vehicle for sex education and social change. And yet, as we will discuss, there is nothing self-evident about how ideas about sex education, capitalism, and feminist and queer social transformation are expressed within the context of these businesses. As store owners have attempted to define what it means to be a successful feminist business, they have come up against a number of related questions. What do they describe as their brand of feminism and who is included? How do they legitimize their businesses in a culture where sex is seen as dirty without resorting to stereotypes about race, class, and gender? How do they stay competitive when mainstream adult retailers have co-opted parts of their educationally focused business model? What are the possibilities, moreover, as well as limits, of practicing feminist sexual politics through marketplace culture?

WORD POWER: Crafting Language to Connect, Inspire, Provoke and Heal
Gabriella Cordova, John Sickler, MSW

Do you find yourself too often preaching to the choir? Are you passionate about your ideas but finding yourself in ineffective conflicts with “the other side?”

Whether you want to change the mind of one person (you are a liberal sex worker who will be spending two hours with a conservative congressman), deepen the impact of your message via your blog or podcast, create a life-changing workshop, or have a constructive online debate, you’ll find the skills offered here useful.

John is a clinical social worker and therapist. His training in Phenomenological Psychotherapy has taught him how to connect deeply and facilitate change in a wide variety of individuals including death row inmates, those with psychotic and personality disorders, and intractable couples in crisis. Gabriella, former sex worker and intimacy coach, and now sex educator, brings her extensive background in leading workshops and navigating the complexity of working with the individuals who make up the over 7000 members and volunteers of SPW, the organization she founded. (Most of her lessons have been learned through mistakes.)

Within the current social and political climate, the sex-positive movement faces the real danger of losing the substantial ground it has gained over the last 20 years. Gay rights, the rights of transsexuals, consent culture, sex education reform, choice, and the rest could be rolled back before our very eyes. That’s why it’s more important than ever that craft our message in a way that it can be readily heard and easily digested.

Yes, All Genders: How to Normalize and Include Trans Bodies and Pleasure in Adult Sex Ed
Alex S. Morgan

While trans rights are making huge strides globally at present, most sexual health and pleasure resources for adults still reference “male” and “female” sexuality in ways that link genitals with gender experience. Transgender men, women, and non-binary individuals–as well as their partners–are left out of sexuality workshops, in part because educators aren’t sure how to best address their needs without alienating a general audience.

Over the course of the past two years, recently transitioned sex educator Alex S. Morgan has treated North America as their lab, testing different approaches, terminology, and methods of increasing accessibility for trans, genderqueer, and questioning seekers of adult sex education (as well as their partners).

In a society that often does its best to divorce trans people from their bodies and reinforces the message that trans people are unworthy of love, treating trans bodies as normal and desirable, and trans pleasure as important and worth discussing, is a revolutionary act. From best practices in choosing inclusive language to adapting exercises to reduce the odds of triggering dysphoria, they’ll share what’s worked across America.

Yes Means Yes, Red Means No: How Kink Handles Consent (and How We Can Improve)
Melody Anne

While the BDSM community purports to hold itself to higher standards of consent in comparison to those of mainstream “vanilla” society, these “Safe, Sane, and Consensual” claims often fall short in reality. Yet, despite our occasional failings, BDSM practitioners have long worked toward a consent culture, developing paradigms for practicing consent that can benefit all individuals and communities striving to unlearn the norms of rape culture. This workshop will explore BDSM’s long-standing ideals of consent, examine the difference between these “best practices” of consent vs how it is realistically navigated, and discuss how the BDSM subculture responds to breaches of consent and attempts to safeguard against consent violations within the community. Furthermore, we will consider what universal lessons regarding consent can be learned from this community’s immersion in a world of power dynamics and sexual expression. Come and join the conversation around how BDSM practitioners discuss and practice consent and how this proactive approach can benefit mainstream society.

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